Vaccinations advised for World Cup travelers

In the runup to next month’s World Cup, local health officials are advising those traveling to the football tournament in Brazil to ensure their vaccinations are up to date.

“The Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization, recommend that all residents of the Americas traveling to the 2014 FIFA World Cup are fully vaccinated against measles and rubella, to maintain the elimination of both diseases in the region,” said Cayman Islands Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar.

“All vaccinations must be completed at least two weeks before travel,” he added. The World Cup kicks off June 12.

All travelers to the World Cup over the age of 6 months are to be vaccinated against measles and rubella, preferably with the MMR, measles, mumps, rubella, vaccine.

In the Cayman Islands, two doses of MMR are customarily given at 15 months and again at 4-6 years. Travelers who are not up to date with their vaccines are at greater risk of contracting these diseases when in close contact with infected persons in countries and locations where the viruses still circulate.

“Anyone returning from these regions who experiences a sudden high fever accompanied by a rash, is encouraged to seek medical attention immediately and to give a travel history to facilitate investigation,” said Dr. Kumar. In March, an outbreak of measles was reported in Canada within an unvaccinated population, but there have been no reported cases of measles in the Cayman Islands since 1991.

At the same time measles remains common in many developing countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, and people visiting these regions should pay attention to possible symptoms, health officials say. The easy access and frequency of air travel puts all non-immune persons at risk for infectious diseases such as measles until they are eliminated globally.

Travelers to Brazil are advised to contact the Public Health Clinic on 244-2648 or Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac on 948-2243 for an appointment, or to consult their physician to seek necessary vaccination and travel advisory.

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